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We have new polls out of the three biggest swing states today -- Ohio, Florida, and Virginia -- along with North Carolina. As we've been seeing the last few days, the results are mostly mixed. Some polls are showing a small shift to Romney, some are showing a continued shift to Obama. The reasons depend on a variety of factors.

Here are the numbers, followed by my analysis.

Originally published at No We Can't Politics.

I'll be tweeting my debate thoughts live during the debate tonight, so be sure to follow me on Twitter.

* OHIO: Obama 51%, Romney 43% -- Obama +1% since 3 weeks ago (NBC/WSJ)
* FLORIDA: Obama 47%, Romney 46% -- Romney +4% since 3 weeks ago (NBC/WSJ)
* FLORIDA: Obama 46%, Romney 43% -- Obama +2% since May (Suffolk)
* VIRGINIA: Obama 48%, Romney 46% -- Romney +3% since 3 weeks ago (NBC/WSJ)
* NORTH CAROLINA: Obama 49%, Romney 47% -- Obama +12% since 3 weeks ago (SurveyUSA)
* NORTH CAROLINA: Romney 51%, Obama 47% -- Obama +2% since 3 weeks ago (Rasmussen)
* WISCONSIN: Obama 53%, Romney 42% -- Romney +3% since 3 weeks ago (Marquette)
* MISSOURI: Romney 51%, Obama 45% -- Obama +6% since August (Public Policy)

The NBC/WSJ polls of Virginia and Florida both show Romney closing the gap, but their Ohio poll actually has Obama adding a bit to what was already a large lead. Ohio is starting to look like a firewall state for Obama -- it isn't moving in relation to national trends and other swing state trends. We have not really seen any evidence of Romney improving in Ohio, even though we have seen some signs elsewhere. This reveals a pretty major problem for the Romney campaign, as they won't be able to win this election without figuring out how to win Ohio. This is a credit to the Obama campaign which seems to have done a strong job defining Romney in the state and making that image stick.

Other than the NBC/WSJ polls of Virginia and Florida, all other polls show a continued shift to Obama. It's hard to make total sense of these numbers. Virginia, in particular, has seen some volatile polling this week. My hunch is that the race has tightened ever so slightly nationally and in some swing states like Virginia, more so because Obama had hit such a peak last week and had to come down a bit from that high than anything Romney has done. That being said, it will be the polls we see this weekend and next week, which will factor in the reaction to tonight's debate, that will tell us where we really stand.

Wisconsin continues to look completely out of play. I'd be surprised if the Romney campaign spent much money or time there going forward.

Missouri continues to look fairly close, but probably not close enough for the Obama campaign to make a grab at, particularly when so many swing states remain close.

At this point, with Ohio and New Hampshire looking like they may be drifting out of play as serious swing states, Obama's starting point in the electoral college sits at 269, one shy of the 270 needed to win. Nevada is quickly approaching the level of also not being a full-on swing state. Giving that to Obama puts him at 274. The Ohio-New Hampshire-Nevada trio currently looks like Obama's easiest path to victory.

As a pre-debate baseline, a few notes on where we stand.

* Obama has led in 9 straight Florida polls, but his average lead is a narrow 2%.
* Obama has led in 9 straight Virginia polls, with his average lead at 4.1%.
* Obama has led in 15 straight Ohio polls, with his average lead at 5.5%.
* Obama has led in 17 straight Nevada polls (not including one by a Republican research firm), with his average lead at 5.2%.
* Obama has led 12 of the last 13 Colorado polls, with his average lead at 3.1%.
* Obama's average lead in Iowa sits at 3.5%.
* Obama's average lead in New Hampshire is up to 6%.
* Romney's only swing state lead is in North Carolina, where his average lead is at 0.8%.

So we enter tonight's debate with Obama in prime position to win every swing state except North Carolina. We will revisit these numbers again next week and see what has, or hasn't, changed.

Be sure to check out my full debate preview and remember that I'll be tweeting my live debate thoughts tonight during the debate, so follow me on Twitter if you haven't already done so. I'll be back tonight with a new column breaking down the debate.

Originally published at No We Can't Politics.

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